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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holy Shrine of Tirumala - earns in carbon credit also

To the devout, Tirumala is the most sacred – housing the temple of Lord Srinivasa thronged by millions, yearning for a few seconds of darshan at Sanctum Sanctorum.  Tirumala is collection of Seven Peaks in the Eastern ghats and lies 3200 feet above seal level.  The seven peaks are named as Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri respectively.
the Gopuram and the greenery on way

Sure have heard of greenhouse gases – gases in atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Greenhouse gases greatly affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would be colder than at present. 

Now a days there is fancied talk about Carbon Credit – a generic term for a tradable certificate or Permit representing the right to emit 1 tonne of carbon dioxide or the mass of  another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent.  Carbon credits and carbon markets are a component of national and international attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Carbon trading is an application of an emissions trading approach. The goal is to allow market mechanisms to drive industrial and commercial processes in the direction of low emissions or less carbon intensive approaches than those used when there is no cost to emitting carbon dioxide and other GHGs into the atmosphere. Since GHG mitigation projects generate credits, this approach can be used to finance carbon reduction schemes between trading partners and around the world.

The optimal way should the reduction of greenhouse gases by adoption of technologies and restrict emission of gases.  The other easy way out made is tie up with developing nations and help them set up new technology that is eco-friendly, thereby helping developing country or its companies 'earn' credits.  In simple terms, making others carry your burden and pay for that.  Conveniently it is stated that India, China and some other Asian countries have the advantage because they are developing countries. Any company, factories or farm owner in India can get linked to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and know the 'standard' level of carbon emission allowed for its outfit or activity. The extent to which  the industry is emitting less carbon (as per standard fixed by UNFCCC), it becomes entitled to credit – the  carbon credit.  These credits are bought over by the companies of developed countries, read European Countries.  
the deer park on the way to Holy Hills

Now comes the Crowning Glory – the connection to the holy Tirumala.  Every day lakhs of devotees visit to pay obeisance at sacred Tirumala. More people also means usage of water, electricity and other energy resources.   The Temple reportedly is showing the way in conserving release of green house gases and is into earning carbon credits also.  Reserve forests have been developed around the Temple hills which act as carbon sinks and the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) is also promoting the use of sustainable technologies.  The EO is quoted as saying that "While we currently use a mix of conventional and non-conventional energy sources, our aim is make the place more reliant on sustainable sources of energy," he says.  "Most of our devotees are progressive. In a religious place like Tirumala, we can set the example by going green. Probably the impact will be much more than normal government advertisements or publicity."

The community kitchen feeds thousands of pilgrims every day.  Inside the temple complex, a large multi-storey building is dedicated to just one thing - cooking free meals for pilgrims.  Several cooks work in tandem stirring large pots of rice, curry and vegetables. Nearly 50,000 kilos of rice along with lentils are cooked here every day. Open all day, this community kitchen is the biggest green project for the temple. Located on the roof of this building are rows of solar dishes that automatically move with the angle of the sun, capturing the strong sunlight.   The solar panels on the roof of the temple power solar cookers, powering the community kitchen below.  Then the energy is used to convert water into high pressure steam, which cooks the food in the kitchen below.  Generating over 4,000kgs of steam a day at 180º C, this makes the cooking faster and cheaper. As a result, an average of 500 litres of diesel fuel is saved each day.  

By switching to green technologies, the temple cuts its carbon emissions and earns a carbon offset, or credit, which they can sell.

First Post reports that Badal Shaw is the managing director of Gadhia Solar Energy Systems, which has set up the solar cookers. He estimates that this has resulted in a reduction of more than 1,350kgs of green house gases in the atmosphere.  "This was the first project to get a gold standard certification - it's a registered project and it is issuing carbon credits," he says.  "From a monetary value, carbon being a tradable commodity - the prices keeps going up and down ... we sold the carbon credits of this and various other projects to the German government."  Besides the Sun, the Temple is also harnessing wind energy. Companies like Suzlon and Enercon have donated turbines which generate a combined total of 7.5 megawatts of power.

Devotees to the Holy Shrine make generous donations in cash and resources which include diamonds, gold and other forms including human hair as thousands tonsure their head in fulfillment of vows.  The temple city has been identified as a future 'low-carbon footprint city' by European Aid and Development, which works under the European Commission.  The cutting edge is that these  technologies cost money and authorities state that when  pilgrims use the water and learn that sustainable sources of energy are being tapped into make the water, food, power available to them, it inspires them. They too will want to learn more about the technology behind it.  According to a 2010 study by HSBC Research, India's share of the $2.2 trillion market for low carbon goods and services in 2020 could be as much as $135bn. The report further predicts that India's clean technology market could create 10.5m green jobs, and is likely to grow faster than any other country.  So at Tirumala, even as the pilgrims have darshan and enjoy the meals cooked using green sources of energy, there is possibility of these becoming investments, generating more money.
 Uthsavar Purappadu and Golden Ananda Vimanam 

One ponders to think whether the Temple need to do anything but the devotees would do everything if only the Religious Sanctity of Holy Tirumala is not disturbed and the traditional rites are continued in the same manner for thousands of years to come.

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), aimed at fighting global warming. The Protocol was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. The only remaining signatory not to have ratified the protocol is the United States. Other United Nations member states which did not ratify the protocol are Afghanistan, Andorra and South Sudan. In December 2011, Canada denounced the Protocol !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

PS :  Most of the statistical inputs on Tirumala carbon credit taken from  an article that appeared in


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